75 Period Dramas You Probably Haven't Seen

by WillowAndThatch | created - 31 Oct 2015 | updated - 20 Nov 2015 | Public

A list of movies, television mini-series and short films that are costume dramas and period films that you may not know about, are sleepers, foreign, older or obscure. From Willow and Thatch, lover of period films, creator of The Period Films List on the Willow and Thatch website.

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1. Empire of Silver (2009)

113 min | Biography, Drama, Family

54 Metascore

In 1899, a care-free young man must prepare to take over his family's Chinese banking empire.

Director: Christina Yao | Stars: Aaron Kwok, Tielin Zhang, Lei Hao, Jennifer Tilly

Votes: 735

2. Heartland (1979)

PG | 96 min | Western, Drama

A widow with a young daughter travels to a ranch in Wyoming to manage the household of a rancher. After a while the man and woman develop a relationship that leads to a marriage. But life in the harsh place takes its toll.

Director: Richard Pearce | Stars: Rip Torn, Conchata Ferrell, Barry Primus, Megan Folsom

Votes: 828

3. Angélique (I) (2013)

113 min | Adventure, History, Romance

In France, prior to Louis XIV ascending the throne, a young baroness is forced to marry against her will and is caught up in a web of treachery and murder, threatening her and her husband, whom she has come to love deeply.

Director: Ariel Zeitoun | Stars: Nora Arnezeder, Gérard Lanvin, Tomer Sisley, David Kross

Votes: 1,413

4. Hammers Over the Anvil (1993)

Not Rated | 97 min | Biography, Drama, Romance

This is the story of the crippled young Alan Marshall and his hero worship of the local he-man horse trainer East Driscoll, the schoolboy crush Alan has on the local aristocratic English ... See full summary »

Director: Ann Turner | Stars: Charlotte Rampling, Russell Crowe, Alexander Outhred, Frankie J. Holden

Votes: 543

5. 1915 (1982)

50 min | Drama, War

Two young men from the country join the army and leave for World War I.

Stars: Scott McGregor, Scott Burgess, Sigrid Thornton, Jackie Woodburne

Votes: 107

6. Young James Herriot (2011)

180 min | Drama

The university days of the vet, James Herriot, set in 1933 Glasgow, Scotland.

Stars: Iain De Caestecker, Amy Manson, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Gary Lewis

Votes: 347

7. Beulah Land (1980)

281 min | Drama

Miniseries detailing the lives of two Civil War families.

Stars: Lesley Ann Warren, Michael Sarrazin, Eddie Albert, Hope Lange

Votes: 225

8. Tenko (1981–1984)

50 min | Drama, History, War

After the Japanese invasion of Singapore in February 1942, a group of British, Dutch and Australian women are held in a Japanese internment camp on a Japanese-occupied island between Singapore and Australia.

Stars: Ann Bell, Stephanie Cole, Claire Oberman, Emily Bolton

Votes: 558

9. Grace Bedell (2010)

17 min | Short, Drama, History

The true story of a little girl, who in 1860, wrote to presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln suggesting he grow whiskers.

Director: Eric Burdett | Stars: Lana Esslinger, Mark Esslinger, Elizabeth Lackey, Pasha D. Lychnikoff

10. Doctor Finlay (1993–1996)

Not Rated | 60 min | Drama

Following his service in World War II, Dr. Finlay returns to the practice at Arden House, at a time when the National Health Service is about to be instituted.

Stars: David Rintoul, Annette Crosbie, Ian Bannen, Gordon Reid

Votes: 211

11. Shortcuts (1981)

93 min | Comedy

An evocation of the childhood memories of Bohumil Hrabal in his provincial town of Nymburk, dominated by the local brewery.

Director: Jirí Menzel | Stars: Magda Vásáryová, Jirí Schmitzer, Jaromír Hanzlík, Rudolf Hrusínský

Votes: 2,029

Set in the Czech republic, at the beginning of the 20th century (maybe right after WWI).

12. The Heiress (1949)

Not Rated | 115 min | Drama, Romance

A young naive woman falls for a handsome young man who her emotionally abusive father suspects is a fortune hunter.

Director: William Wyler | Stars: Olivia de Havilland, Montgomery Clift, Ralph Richardson, Miriam Hopkins

Votes: 12,682

13. The Long Firm (2004)

220 min | Crime, Drama

The lives of characters who live, love, and suffer through their association with the charismatic charms of gangster Harry Starks.

Stars: Mark Strong, George Costigan, Neil Conrich, Geoff Bell

Votes: 589

14. Jack Holborn (1982)

60 min | Adventure

Jack Holborn is 13-year-old orphan in the 1800's that wants to get a job on a sailship to avoid foster homes. He is hired by Captain Sharingham, and they set sail. Jack was found on the ... See full summary »

Stars: Patrick Bach, Matthias Habich, Andreas Mannkopff, Monte Markham

Votes: 351

15. Jeremiah Johnson (1972)

GP | 108 min | Adventure, Drama, Western

75 Metascore

A mountain man who wishes to live the life of a hermit becomes the unwilling object of a long vendetta by the Crow tribe and proves to be a match for their warriors in single combat on the early frontier.

Director: Sydney Pollack | Stars: Robert Redford, Will Geer, Delle Bolton, Josh Albee

Votes: 27,446 | Gross: $47.74M

16. To the Ends of the Earth (2005)

267 min | Drama

In 1812, young British aristocrat Edmund Talbot travels by ship to Australia, and learns more about himself and about life than he had ever bargained for.

Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Jared Harris, Jamie Sives, Richard McCabe

Votes: 2,093

17. Marquise (1997)

120 min | Drama, Comedy

The rise and fall of a beauteous actress. She rises from an impoverished background to become a favorite of the Sun King, Louis XIV.

Director: Véra Belmont | Stars: Sophie Marceau, Bernard Giraudeau, Lambert Wilson, Patrick Timsit

Votes: 986 | Gross: $0.07M

18. Twenty Good Years (1979– )

50 min | Drama

Period drama following different years in the life of a Jewish family living in Australia.

Stars: Harold Hopkins, Anne Scott-Pendlebury, Michael Carman, Jonathan Hardy

Each episode of this tv mini-series covered one year in the family from the mid 1950s into the 1970s.

19. Little Big Man (1970)

PG-13 | 139 min | Adventure, Comedy, Drama

63 Metascore

Jack Crabb, looking back from extreme old age, tells of his life being raised by Native Americans and fighting with General Custer.

Director: Arthur Penn | Stars: Dustin Hoffman, Faye Dunaway, Chief Dan George, Martin Balsam

Votes: 31,822 | Gross: $31.56M

20. The Courage to Love (2000 TV Movie)

PG-13 | 95 min | Drama, History, Romance

In 19th century New Orleans creole Henriette must choose between love and devotion to the church. Neither choice is going to be easy, as there is great opposition to her ideas of breaking traditions.

Director: Kari Skogland | Stars: Vanessa Williams, Gil Bellows, Karen Williams, Lisa Bronwyn Moore

Votes: 421

21. Shanghai Triad (1995)

R | 108 min | Crime, Drama, History

A provincial boy related to a Shanghai crime family is recruited by his uncle into cosmopolitan Shanghai in the 1930s to be a servant to a ganglord's mistress.

Director: Yimou Zhang | Stars: Li Gong, Baotian Li, Xiaoxiao Wang, Xuejian Li

Votes: 4,985 | Gross: $2.30M

22. Revenge of the Musketeers (1994)

R | 125 min | Action, Adventure, Comedy

France, 1654: D'Artagnan's girl grows up in a convent. When the mother superior is murdered, Eloïse suspects a plan to murder the king and hopes to prevent this and revenge the murder by finding her father and the 3 musketeers.

Director: Bertrand Tavernier | Stars: Sophie Marceau, Philippe Noiret, Claude Rich, Sami Frey

Votes: 3,069 | Gross: $0.31M

23. Chouans! (1988)

143 min | Adventure, History, War

In 1793 when terror is widespread in France, peasants known as Chouans fight the revolutionaries in attempt to restore the monarchy.

Director: Philippe de Broca | Stars: Philippe Noiret, Vincent Schmitt, Raoul Billerey, Claudine Delvaux

Votes: 628

24. 1944 (2015)

100 min | Drama, History, War

In 1944 Estonia, a fratricide war ensues when Estonians of the retreating German forces fight against Estonians conscripted into the advancing Soviet Red Army.

Director: Elmo Nüganen | Stars: Kaspar Velberg, Kristjan Üksküla, Maiken Schmidt, Gert Raudsep

Votes: 4,662

25. Zubeidaa (2001)

Unrated | 153 min | Biography, Drama, History

Zubeidaa, an aspiring Muslim actress, marries a Sikh prince to become his second wife. Her tumultuous relationship with her husband, and her inner demons lead her to a decision which has fatal consequences for them all.

Director: Shyam Benegal | Stars: Karisma Kapoor, Rekha, Manoj Bajpayee, Rajit Kapoor

Votes: 1,421

26. Young Mr. Lincoln (1939)

Passed | 100 min | Biography, Drama, History

91 Metascore

A fictionalized account of the early life of the American president as a young lawyer facing his greatest court case.

Director: John Ford | Stars: Henry Fonda, Alice Brady, Marjorie Weaver, Arleen Whelan

Votes: 7,150

27. Nostromo (1966– )

Drama

In an unstable South American country, capable Nostromo, a person of trust and a legend among his shipmates, is ordered to secure a shipment of silver and stop any revolutionaries who might... See full summary »

Stars: Brian Dennehy, Albert Finney, Colin Firth, Roberto Escobar

Votes: 222

With Colin Firth

28. A Step Into the Dark (2014)

120 min | Drama

A period drama about a young physician who was forced to carry out execution during the war.Is he a hero or a murder?

Director: Miloslav Luther | Stars: Kristýna Boková, Slávka Daubnerová, Miroslav Donutil, Zdenek Dvorák

Votes: 26

A Step into the Dark is based on a book by Slovak writer Alfonz Bednár and follows Martin Dubovský, a doctor haunted by his bloody past as a guerrilla commander during World War II, as he also tries to come to terms with it through a stormy extra-marital affair at the beginning of the communist era.

29. Jezebel (1938)

Approved | 104 min | Drama, Romance

In 1850s Louisiana, a free-spirited Southern belle loses her fiancé due to her stubborn vanity and pride, and vows to win him back.

Director: William Wyler | Stars: Bette Davis, Henry Fonda, George Brent, Margaret Lindsay

Votes: 11,501

The story takes place in New Orleans in the 1850's.

30. Marbles with Thoreau (2009)

16 min | Short, Adventure, Family

While exploring the woods near Walden Pond, two children stumble across a mysterious abandoned cabin. They quickly discover the cabin is in fact occupied by none other than the 19th century... See full summary »

Director: Melody George | Stars: Chris Ackerman, Anders Fillman, Josie Gammell, Skyler Nelson

Votes: 8

31. A Man Called Horse (1970)

M | 114 min | Adventure, Drama, Western

46 Metascore

In 1825, an English aristocrat is captured by Native Americans. He lives with them and begins to understand their way of life. Eventually, he is accepted as part of the tribe and aspires to become their leader.

Director: Elliot Silverstein | Stars: Richard Harris, Judith Anderson, Jean Gascon, Manu Tupou

Votes: 7,855 | Gross: $1.94M

32. The Shanghai Spell (2002)

119 min | Drama, Mystery

Barcelona, 1948: An old man living with 14 y.o. Dani and his mom, arranges for Dani to draw the cute 15 y.o. Susana, bedridden with TB. Her dad's friend visits Susana and her sexy mom and tells about her dad and Shanghai.

Director: Fernando Trueba | Stars: Fernando Tielve, Aida Folch, Ariadna Gil, Fernando Fernán Gómez

Votes: 467

33. Pink String and Sealing Wax (1945)

Not Rated | 89 min | Drama, Thriller

A drunken, abusive tavern-keeper's adulterous wife uses the backward son of a rigid, puritanical pharmacist who makes his entire family miserable.

Director: Robert Hamer | Stars: Mervyn Johns, Mary Merrall, Gordon Jackson, Jean Ireland

Votes: 340

Takes place in Victorian Brighton.

34. The Shocking Miss Pilgrim (1947)

Approved | 85 min | Comedy, Musical, Romance

In the late 1800s, Miss Pilgrim, a young stenographer, or typewriter, becomes the first female employee at a Boston shipping office. Although the men object to her at first, she soon charms... See full summary »

Directors: George Seaton, Edmund Goulding, John M. Stahl | Stars: Betty Grable, Dick Haymes, Anne Revere, Allyn Joslyn

Votes: 369 | Gross: $2.73M

36. Demon (I) (2012)

90 min | Horror

Demon is the bloodiest love story of all. Set in Victorian London it tells the tale of Lorcan a young handsome man cursed by love that transforms him into a blood thirsty demon.

Director: Mark Duffield | Stars: Clare Langford, Andrew Mullan, Gabrielle Curtis, Tom Hall

Votes: 20

37. Eleanor and Franklin (1976)

203 min | Biography, Drama, Romance

The story of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, from early youth to his election as President of the United States, as told from Eleanor's point of view.

Stars: David Huffman, Mackenzie Phillips, Lilia Skala, Ed Flanders

Votes: 302

38. Cries & Whispers (1972)

R | 91 min | Drama

When a woman dying of cancer in early twentieth-century Sweden is visited by her two sisters, long-repressed feelings between the siblings rise to the surface.

Director: Ingmar Bergman | Stars: Harriet Andersson, Liv Ullmann, Kari Sylwan, Ingrid Thulin

Votes: 28,414 | Gross: $1.74M

39. The Little Minister (1934)

Approved | 110 min | Drama, Romance

In rural 1840's Scotland, Gavin Dishart arrives to become the new "little minister" of Thrums's Auld Licht church. He meets a mysterious young gypsy girl in the dens and to his horror ... See full summary »

Director: Richard Wallace | Stars: Katharine Hepburn, John Beal, Alan Hale, Donald Crisp

Votes: 659

40. Two Hours in the Dark (2010)

35 min | Short, Biography, Drama

Blindsided by the success of his comedy, 'It Happened One Night,' which swept the 1935 Oscars, director Frank Capra became crippled with fear. Convinced his next film would fail, he ... See full summary »

Director: Chip Hackler | Stars: Phillip DeVona, Jacquelyn Zook, Jack Landry, Keith Flippen

Votes: 14

41. Torn (II) (2009)

19 min | Short, Action, Drama

A 17th century Englishwoman awakes in America from a fevered state mysteriously drawn to a handsome colonial she believes saved her life, not knowing she was saved in fact by the 'kiss' of an English vampire.

Director: Renata Green-Gaber | Stars: Lorin Shapiro, James Locke, Jonas Fisch, Sylvia Panacione

Votes: 11

42. The Little Foxes (1941)

Approved | 116 min | Drama, Romance

The ruthless, moneyed Hubbard clan lives in, and poisons, their part of the deep South at the turn of the twentieth century.

Director: William Wyler | Stars: Bette Davis, Herbert Marshall, Teresa Wright, Richard Carlson

Votes: 9,829

43. Delphinium: A Childhood Portrait of Derek Jarman (2009)

12 min | Short, Biography, Drama

Delphinium is a stylized and lyrical portrait of artist Derek Jarman's childhood awakening in 1950s England. Acquired for preservation by the British Film Institute's National Archive, ... See full summary »

Director: Matthew Mishory | Stars: Sam Garfield, Jeremiah Dupre, Kevin Collins, Edward Singletary

Votes: 40

44. Stardust (2007)

PG-13 | 127 min | Adventure, Family, Fantasy

66 Metascore

In a countryside town bordering on a magical land, a young man makes a promise to his beloved that he'll retrieve a fallen star by venturing into the magical realm.

Director: Matthew Vaughn | Stars: Charlie Cox, Claire Danes, Sienna Miller, Ian McKellen

Votes: 247,427 | Gross: $38.63M

45. Mary of Scotland (1936)

Approved | 123 min | Biography, Drama, History

The recently widowed Mary Stuart returns to Scotland to reclaim her throne but is opposed by her half-brother and her own Scottish lords.

Directors: John Ford, Leslie Goodwins | Stars: Katharine Hepburn, Fredric March, Florence Eldridge, Douglas Walton

Votes: 2,199

46. Dark Victory (1939)

Approved | 104 min | Drama, Romance